sport news Chelsea Champions League opponents Krasnodar are everyone's second team in ...

Chelsea will not only be facing FC Krasnodar in the Champions League on Wednesday evening but, it would seem, the whole of Russia.

The group stage debutants from Russia's deep south are the second team of most of the country's football fans - and it's all thanks to their owner.

The term billionaire Russian oligarch conjures up a certain image but Sergey Galitsky has always done things his own way.

Krasnodar drew 1-1 with Rennes in their first-ever Champions League group game last week - pictured are the celebrations after Cristian Ramirez scored their goal in France

Krasnodar drew 1-1 with Rennes in their first-ever Champions League group game last week - pictured are the celebrations after Cristian Ramirez scored their goal in France

Chelsea's squad train at the Krasnodar Stadium ahead of Wednesday night's encounter

Chelsea's squad train at the Krasnodar Stadium ahead of Wednesday night's encounter

Krasnodar are owned by billionaire Sergey Galitsky, who founded the Magnit supermarket chain in the 1990s and brought affordable food to the public for the first time

Krasnodar are owned by billionaire Sergey Galitsky, who founded the Magnit supermarket chain in the 1990s and brought affordable food to the public for the first time

Instead of exploiting Russia's vast natural resources to make obscene fortunes following the decline of the Soviet Union, Galitsky gave something back to the long-suffering people.

He opened his first grocery store in Krasnodar in 1998 and from there built the nationwide Magnit supermarket chain, offering the Russian public affordable produce for the first time.

It's why when Galitsky, whose wealth is valued by Forbes at $3.5billion (£2.7bn), decided to set up a football team in Krasnodar in 2008, it was done in a way that commanded widespread respect.

In just 12 years, Krasnodar have risen from the third tier of Russian football to the Champions League and their fixture with Chelsea represents a major landmark - their first home game in the group stages.

Football fans in the city and well beyond were thrilled when Krasnodar overcame Greek team PAOK in the play-off round and the visit of Frank Lampard's side is certainly the biggest game in their short but exciting history.

The 35,000-capacity Krasnodar Stadium won't be quite full because of Covid-19 restrictions

The 35,000-capacity Krasnodar Stadium won't be quite full because of Covid-19 restrictions

Many Russian football fans were delighted when Krasnodar won their play-off against PAOK

Many Russian football fans were delighted when Krasnodar won their play-off against PAOK

Another unusual aspect about Galitsky, 53, is that he is intimately involved in the day-to-day running of his club.

Typically, the cold stare of a powerful and wealthy owner is an unnerving prospect for managers and players alike but Galitsky has a deep knowledge of both his club, right down to the names of kids in the academy, and football in general.

'Mr Galitsky is the smartest of men,' manager Murad Musayev told The Times. 'He played football in his youth and, as I understand it, FC Krasnodar is the biggest creation of his life.

'He makes no financial profit from this. This is his magnum opus.'

Musayev, 36, does need to justify some of the decisions he makes with the team to the owner - 'he has an opinion on everything, he will argue with you on every point' - but equally the billionaire can be found handing out water bottles to players

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